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Computing and Humanities

ENGL 205.401
instructor(s):
TR 3-4:30

This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of using computers for textual analysis, with special emphasis on textual research in English literature of the Nineteenth Century. In the fall of 2003, the course will focus on Jane Austen's unfinished novel, Sanditon, and Anna Austen Lefroy's continuation of it. Successful completion of this course will prepare students to do computer-aided textual research on other bodies of text as well. Projects will include the creation of encoded electronic texts of Austen and Lefroy, writing simple scripts to analyze them, and using basic statistics to measure literary and stylistic features. The class will utilize a combination of lecture, discussion, presentations, and practical lab experience. Enrollment is limited. There are no prerequisites.

Objectives

·    gain confidence in knowing when and how to use Information Technology in textual research;
·    use basic concepts of programming to create simple scripts to assist in basic literary analysis: for example, text verification and collation, Boolean searches, indexes, key-word-in-context lists, word frequency lists;
·    use basic concepts of statistics to measure relevant features of style;
·    gain confidence in understanding and assessing arguments based on quantitative measurements of literary features.

Textbooks

Susan Hockey, Electronic Texts in the Humanities: Principles and Practice (Oxford University Press, 2001).
Anthony Kenny, The Computation of Style: An Introduction to Statistics for Students of Literature and Humanities (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1982).
Randal L. Schwartz and Tom Phoenix, Learning Perl, third edition (Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly, 2001).